Thanks to a close friend of mine, I’ve had the chance to read every volume of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s Atomic Robo. Though my previous forays into the acclaimed series were limited, I now have a broader view of the series as a whole. Fans of my column may remember I had a lukewarm reaction to Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific, but today I’m looking at what I believe is the best entry in the series: Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science. This story, focusing on a younger Robo in early-1930s Manhattan, is a great read and I hope you’ll want to pick it up upon finishing this review.
The year is 1930 and a seven-year-old Robo yearns for adventure, thanks in part to the pulp novels he loves reading in his spare time. Adventure finds him in the form of vigilante Jack Tarot, a Chicago native who is in the Big Apple following a trail of mafia thievery. Robo desperately wants to join this world of gun-slinging and espionage, and thanks to Helen, “Jack’s” daughter, Robo becomes their confidant. What follows is an adventure that brings to the fore the rivalry between Tesla and Edison, and culminates in an exciting battle involving robots, pseudo-scientific forces, and lots and lots of electricity.
Brian Clevinger’s work on this volume exemplifies exactly why Atomic Robo has gained such a strong following. The jokes are witty, the characters are likable, and the story is heartwarming, exciting, and ridiculous in equal measure. I found myself rooting for the wide-eyed youthful (well…younger I guess since robots don’t age) Robo. I’d go so far as to say that metal man is the most human of all the individuals involved. His interactions with “Jack Tarot” (aka Donovan McCallister) and his daughter Helen are especially enjoyable, even I daresay cute. The story also sets up a mystery that is comes together and is adequately resolved come the volume’s end.
Scott Wegener’s art in Deadly Art of Science is some of the best I’ve seen from him. The character and machinery designs are great. Wegener also succeeds in filling the comic with the feel of the era, ensuring that even the wild sci-fi technology has a 1930s feel to it. The action scenes are cool, while the scenes between Helen and Robo are actually heartwarming when a lesser artist would have definitely made them feel awkward. Ronda Pattison and Jeff Powell, handling coloring and lettering respectively, help bring Wegener’s art to an even higher quality. My only gripe about the art is some characters’ faces lack sufficient expression, but this is mostly relegated to side characters and only shows up a few times within the main cast.
Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science is my favorite volume of the series and its supplementary materials. The story is exciting and enjoyable, while the art is great. Like other Atomic Robo volumes, one of the strengths of this story is that one needs no prior exposure to Atomic Robo to enjoy it: new fans can jump right in, but old fans will appreciate it just as much. If you can, pick up Atomic’ Robo’s fifth volume, The Deadly Art of Science today!
-great story with plenty of likable characters
-great art, especially the technology and character designs
–tons of hilarious moments
-characters’ faces are rather plain and lack expression in some scenes
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’s never been more excited for the upcoming volume, The Savage Sword of Doctor Dinosaur.
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